Retro Re-release Roundup, week of June 2, 2022
Two little heads-up, dear readers! Firstly, Strictly Limited's two Turrican Anthology releases are finally arriving in buyers' mailboxes, but that seems pointless to mention to an audience of people who didn't buy them a year+ ago and can't hope to acquire them now. Secondly, the team behind Sega's Genesis/Mega Drive Mini and Game Gear Micro are planning a new announcement at 8PM Japan time today, and my hunch is it has nothing to do with a Saturn or Dreamcast Mini. (Leave your predictions and/or future callouts in the comments!) Thirdly, Sony's prepping a big presentation that may or may not include the not-so-surprising international rollout of the new PS Premium scheme which features reissues of classic games from PlayStations past... or maybe not, what do I know.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 (worldwide)
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster / Bandai-Namco
What's this? An RPG-tinged, maze-heavy action game, originally developed and released in Japanese arcades by Namco in 1984 and converted to a plethora of contemporary platforms, with international releases sporadically trickling out via various compilations, the most recent being Namco Museum for Switch. Players control the hero Gil on a quest through a 60-floor tower to rescue the priestess Ki from the evil Druaga; clearing each floor requires defeating monsters and locating the key to unlock each door, a seemingly simple task complicated by the many crucial hidden items and unintuitive methods required to progress. (As with certain other recent reissues, the Arcade Archives version includes a hint function that displays certain hidden stats and explicitly outlines the requirements for progression for every floor.)
Why should I care? Among Japanese players of a certain generation, The Tower of Druaga is a massively influential game that offered arcade players the first taste, however superficial, of role-playing games, as well as one that milked the appeal of hidden mechanics and community knowledge-sharing for all they were worth. For the rest of us, Druaga might be a little harder to appreciate, even with the assist features that spell out the entire game, but Namco's decided they're just going to pretend that international audiences revere this game as much as their golden age classics, so one might as well at least try to understand the appeal.
Useless fact: Druaga was designed as a replacement game for surplus Mappy boards, which just demonstrates that y'all don't have the appropriate amount of reverence for Mappy.
- Platform: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
- Price: $29.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: ININ / Strictly Limited Games
What's this? A compilation containing four of the six mainline games in the famously byzantine platformer/action-RPG Wonder Boy/Monster World series, originally developed by the defunct studio Westone and released in arcades and on Sega home consoles during the late-'80s/early-'90s and ported to countless other platforms, often reskinned using other original or licensed IP. Emulated by Ratalaika Games, the feature set includes save states, rewind and fast-forward options, control configs, display and shader settings and a very modest art gallery.
Which games are included? The original arcade versions of the first two games, Wonder Boy and Wonder Boy in Monster Land, the Mega Drive version of the fifth game, Wonder Boy in Monster World, and the translated 2012 version of the formerly-Japan-only final game, Monster World IV for Mega Drive. (The complementary Wonder Boy Anniversary Collection released by sister company Strictly Limited Games includes the two missing mainline games and a bevy of other regional variants and ports, bringing the total number of games to 21, but that compilation is physical-only, all but sold out and may or may not ever be made available digitally, either as a standalone or as an upgrade for the standard retail collection.)
Why should I care? Wonder Boy/Monster World is a series that has seen a resurgence in prominence and popularity over the last few years and one that deserves an accessible, comprehensive and thoughtfully-curated one-stop collection for all the new players who remain confused about the history and lineage of the franchise... unfortunately, this ain't it, and it's somewhat galling that so many of these games are exclusive to a collector-bait package that those most primed to appreciate it will possibly never get a chance to play (especially given the nominally similar but much higher-quality collection the series received in Japan some fifteen years ago), but for what it is — a collection of four interesting games that broadly demonstrate the evolution of the series, and are emulated well enough — I'm sure it'll do enough to pique further interest from the completely uninitiated. (That said: fix those Wonder Boy controls, Ratalaika.)
Helpful tip: The four games in this collection are available on other modern platforms in various guises: the original Wonder Boy was remade as Wonder Boy Returns and/or Wonder Boy Returns Remix for current consoles and PC, and the arcade version can be found on Japanese PSN for PS4 via Arcade Archives and the Astro City Mini; Wonder Boy in Monster Land is available on Switch as a Sega Ages title and on Xbox as part of the X360 Monster World Vintage Collection, as well as the Astro City Mini; Wonder Boy in Monster World is available as part of the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive Classics compilation for Steam/PS4/XB1 as well as the X360 Monster World Vintage Collection and the English/Asian Genesis/Mega Drive Mini, and Monster World IV was recently remade as Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World for PS4/Switch PC, with the original game distributed as a physical bonus for the console versions of the remake and also available as part of the X360 Monster World Vintage Collection and on all versions of the Genesis/Mega Drive Mini.
- Platform: PlayStation 4/5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox (worldwide)
- Price: $9.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: QUByte Interactive / Piko Interactive
What's this? An emulated two-pack containing two versions of Loriciel's multi-format action game Jim Power: The Lost Dimension in 3-D, a loose adaptation of the European computer game Jim Power in Mutant Power, that was originally released for the Super Nintendo in North America in 1993; curiously, this collection includes the unreleased Sega Genesis port and a newly-produced NES conversion, but not the SNES original. QUByte's feature suite includes some very basic screen settings, button mappings and save/load states. (The super-aggressive pseudo-3D Pulfrich parallax present in the SNES version is not present in these versions, hence the lack of "3-D" in the subtitle.)
Why should I care? Jim Power on SNES has a reputation for being brutally unpolished and while I cannot verify anything with first-hand accounts, my suspicion is that the two versions have probably been edited into being significantly less punishing, so those who harbor resentment towards the SNES version may want to get their revenge with this collection. (It's also nice to hear more Chris Huelsbeck Genesis music, even if he did swipe some of it from Ys.)
Helpful tip: There exists a fuller collection on Steam that includes both these versions alongside an old DOS port, the original SNES version and an "enhanced" SNES version with the nausea-inducing parallax removed) — it's a Piko Interactive joint so the emulator wrappers suck, but you can do with the ROMs what you may.
UPDATES UPDATES UPDATES
G-Darius HD (console versions) update patch
Released months ago for the Japanese console versions and as part of the Steam port, the major update for M2's G-Darius HD conversion has finally made its way to the international console versions, adding the previously-unported arcade-only G-Darius ver.2 revision, the PlayStation port of G-Darius and a multitude of additional gadgets and training mode features. Better late than never!
LIMITED-EDITION PHYSICAL PRINT RUNS
Avenging Spirit (Game Boy) cartridge reissue by Retro-Bit Publishing
- Price: $44.99 / €49.99
- Availability:from July 3, 10AM Eastern (Limited Run Games)
Originating in arcades but finding more longevity via its cutesy Game Boy makeover, Jaleco's body-swapping action game Avenging Spirit is getting a reissue on Game Boy, complete with glow-in-the-dark cartridge and newly-translated endings and other flavor text from the Japanese version, Phantasm. Manufacturer Retro-Bit has partnered with several different distributors for different regions, so check the above link for specific regional details.
Jim Power: The Lost Dimension (SNES, Genesis/Mega Drive) cartridge reissues & QUByte collection (PS4/Switch) from Strictly Limited Games
- Price: €29.99 (standard PS4/Switch), €49.99 (SNES, Genesis/MD, collectors edition PS4/Switch)
- ETA: from October 2022
That there Jim Power collection I mentioned above? It's getting a physical release! What's more, the Genesis/Mega Drive and SNES versions are getting cartridge reissues, with the SNES version being specifically based on Piko Interactive's easier, parallax-free "enhanced" version, making it distinct from the authentic classic cartridge version.